Only a small number of (most likely) ritual helmets that could fit into the category have been discovered so far. However, the two horned helmets that were discovered in Viksø, Denmark, have now been traced back to Sardinia in the Bronze Age, shattering myths that they originated in the Viking era.
According to the National Museum of Denmark, the Viksø helmets were probably used at religious ceremonies. Later on, they were deposited in the bog as offerings. One of the helmets was placed on a wooden tray of ash. The offerings may also have included a ceramic vessel.
The findings were published in the historical journal Praehistorische Zeitschrift in December of 2021. In the study, scientists claim that the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean" boast a deep history of horned-helmeted figures connected with divine rulership and with warfare."
"For many years in popular culture, people associated the Viksø helmets with the Vikings," Helle Vandkilde, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark who was involved in the research, noted in a press statement sent to CNN.
"But our research confirms that the helmets were deposited in the bog in about 900 BC, almost 3,000 years ago and many centuries before the Vikings or Norse dominated the region", Vandkilde added.
Bronze Age in Sardinia and symbols of horned creatures
The study points out that similar horned helmet imagery has already been identified from the Bronze Age in Sardinia, southern Scandinavia, and southwestern Iberia.
Furthermore, the experts pointed out that symbols of horned creatures had religious importance during the Bronze Age in Sardinia. They were often used in the process of decorating Neolithic tombs.
When it comes to Iberia, the horned helmet symbol is connected to the expansion of Phoenician society in the west, the researchers believe.
Phoenician seafaring routes coincide with the addition of Scandinavia to the network, CNN reports, confirming a Mediterranean-Atlantic sea route into the Baltic Sea.
The helmets would not have been transported by land, as "the other-wise flourishing transalpine trade route seems to have been inactive in disseminating the image of the horned warrior hero," researchers noted.
Connections between civilizations
"Our study shows that Scandinavian depictions of horned warriors occur at the same time as very similar images in Sardinia and southwest Spain. This testifies to the tight connections between the great civilizations of Bronze Age Europe; the first globalization based on long-distance trade in metals, ideas, and luxuries," Vandkilde told CNN.
"The horned warriors in Scandinavia, Sardinia, and Spain all associate with new political regimes backed by control of metals and new religious beliefs."
Researchers noted that those fighters who wore horned helmets would have been considered "the quintessential warrior."
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